OK, I don’t believe in the theory of communism, and we’ve all seen what it’s done to the countries that have it. But one thing I’ve been curious about for a while now. The people who implement it. In theory, communism is supposed to benefit everybody. Everybody’s supposed to be equal and get a fair share of the economic wealth. Yet the communist leaders: Stalin, Castro, Jiang Zemin, KIM Chong-il, Milosevic, and so on, are/were brutal dictators who suppress(ed) their people and denied them many of their rights. How come it’s these kinds of people, and not well meaning, but economically ignorant, people who run communist countries?
During the transition to “true Communism”, there is supposed to be a period of “benevolent dictatorship” in order to root out the last remains of evil Capitalism. In places like the old USSR, they claimed that this period had to last until all vestiges of Imperialism, etc. are removed from the planet.
It was considered by many experts I knew back when that no country had ever come close to getting out of the transition phase.
be·nev·o·lent ( P ) Pronunciation Key (b-nv-lnt)
- Characterized by or suggestive of doing good.
- Of, concerned with, or organized for the benefit of charity.
So how were all the killings in the Bolshevik revolution, or Tiananmen square supposed to be benevolent. Or how is the treatment of the Cuban people or the Tibetan Buddhists supposed to be benevolent?
Where did people shop in the USSR, were there places like say, Woolworths of such or were they Illegal as well?
There were state stores that carried items produced by the state. The state also decided what items the people wanted. A woman would go in and see a dress she liked (this very seldom happened) but it was available in only one size (this was a common occurence.) There were stores that were well stocked with foreign goods, but only the privileged could shop at such stores.
Then there was the black market.
Because you can’t make an omlette without breaking some eggs.
Essentially, that was the argument – they were fighting against the foes of the people. Since the leaders were not only working for the benefit of their people, but to benefit the people of all the generations to come. So a few deaths were regrettable, but necessary.
There were state stores. The price was artificially low, but the selection was notoriously poor, and many things were difficult to get. Of course, Party members had their own private stores that didn’t seem to have that problem, for some reason. :rolleyes:
It was less of an issue to the everyday Russian, since they didn’t expect to buy a lot of stuff other than food.
Oh boy, this could be a long and messy thread.
Partly, I think that is an unfair stereotype. Ruthless people tend to take charge of communist nations for several reasons… for one, there is usually violent rebellion leading up to this, and in almost every case, it is a rebellion of peasants or workers against the existing social structure. When that structure is ripped out of place, there is a tremendous hole that is filled by the person with the most will to fill it, since you have a single-party system in place. In Russia’s case, you are looking at people who until the Communists came had been horribly repressed, so the flicker of hope they had being extinguished didn’t have a terribly large effect on them. A lot of underground literature of the time puts Communist leaders simply replacing the people they overthrew, only being inept about it.
As for calling them “economically ignorant,” I think that’s kinda wrong and more complicated than you make out. For instance, I think Cuba might be in a much different situation if America was open to it. If you want to talk the financial situation, go to Russia and ask about the semibankirshchina and how industry works in Russia today… or how it worked in pre-Soviet Russia and then in 1935. Are, on average, the third world nations that develop capitalism and democracy any better off, or do you see just as many psuedo-democracies popping up under dictators?
You can look at Cuba’s health care system, which is widely considered one of the best in the world, that gets strangled because of US chokehold on their imports. Their education system is strong. What would an open border between the US and Cuba result in? I don’t think it would exactly qualify as a “economically ignorant.”
Would Russia have been better off under their Tsarist government, or even a constitutional version?
One of my favorite social topics is rapid industrialization. I believe that there needs to be an entire overhaul of society as a nation industrializes. In pretty much every instance of this happening “overnight” or through importation of foreign supplies and technology, disaster results. You look at America, England, France, Germany, etc changing drastically culturally thoughtout their industrialization, but over a longer period of time. Then look at Russia, China, Japan, or any number of third world nations that were suddenly given machine guns and factories.
I’m not defending these leaders’ humanitarian actions or economic policies. Most are brutal thugs, and people flee those countries for a reason. Communist regimes tend to stifle a lot of social development, and in a twist, the workers end up being bits of a machine. The Western states turned out to develop capitalism into an interesting direction that embraces the better ideas, but retains individuality. We also happen to have gone through industrialization in a much more steady and natural pace, have a wealth of resources, worldwide influence and long standing lines of trade, and functioning democracy with long traditions of individualism.
In the end, I think Marx was just wrong. Capitalism evolved, rather than being overthrown.
Funny thing is, supposedly, communism is supposed to eliminate the haves and have nots, but in practice, government officials are the haves, and everybody else are the have nots.
Funnily enough, in the end, the company taking over the state and the state taking over the company are pretty much the same thing.
What Zagadka said.
You really need to look at the system displaced by communism. Those people in Miami don’t want to go back to the Batista days, they want to be in charge themselves. With the benefits the revolution brought, that is.
Uhm, Zagadka, your blaming of America for Cuba’s poverty is probably better suited for Great Debates.
I never blamed America for Cuba’s poverty. We don’t know how Cuba would be with America being open, so no one can make that statement. I merely brought up that Cuba’s failing economy is not due entirely to poor economics, which is true… unless you somehow think that opening up a marketplace of several hundred million people isn’t going to affect your economy. O_o
The fact I pointed out with Cuba’s health care program being crippled by America’s embargo is something you can take up with
if you like.
I’m tired and going to bed now. That’s just one link I pulled from the first half page of Google. Take it at face value, translate it from health to economics, toss it into a little ball and play hoops with your garbage can (metaphorically). Flame me, or don’t.
My point is that the stability and success of a nation, culture, or whatever hinges on a lot more than a specific form of government, or even that a form of government lends itself to a specific form of action based on social development, and it is easy but unfair to make broad generalizations tying performance to ideas.
Can Communism work? Well, that is a GD thread, but since, as you say, we’re already on track, I think it works on small levels (within a company or industrial town), but never on a large scale national level. It lends itself too easily to manipulation/dictatorship from the single party form and a generally passive individual role. It is a localized structure much more suited to workers running one factory or mining town or whatnot as a group than it ever can be to running a nation (neverminding that an economic idea being identified as a government structure is kinda silly. Chinese Communism, Soviet Communism, Cuban Communism, etc all had different government types, in the end. It is like saying America and Britain are run the same because they are Capitalist. They are similar, but different).
I live in China, so I can tell you what is happening here.
Communism as an ECONOMIC theory has been more or less thrown out the window. Capitalism is everywhere. Markets, small restaurants, clothing shops, businesses of all kinds are operating here. The government is selling off their own state owned industry as unprofitable.
People are allowed to work or not to, or to quit a job if it sucks. Just like anywhere else. I have seen the super rich driving Mercedes and their kids wearing Tommy Hilfiger and looking cool. On the other end, I have seen people literally digging through horrid dumpsters looking for anything to sell.
People must pay to send their “child” to school. Also, if someone is sick and without income to pay the doctor, they are SOL. There is no social security for the aged either. However, as a culture, Chinese look after their families for the most part.
Unlike what I have heard about North Korea, Chinese here are not “persecuted”, there is plenty of food and goods to buy, if you have the RMB!
The GOVERNMENT is still a Communist one. There is religion here, but it is registered by the government. Fulan Gong is outlawed as a dangerous cult that brainwashes people into murder and insanity. There is an English news channel here, but its really a fucking joke, nothing bad happens here in China. The news never talk about poverty, AIDS, unemployment, drugs, crime or any of that. It is all about how the nation is stronger economically and a bunch of foo foo stories.
I love China. But there is going to be some major demographic fuckups in the future. One, there is now 109 males for every 100 females here, due to the one child policy. People want boys, so the girls are being aborted. If any of you out there want to adopt a beautiful baby girl, come here. You can get one as easy as picking up a mutt at the pound.
Second fuckup is that China is still an agricultural nation, and I saw a report stating that the nation only needs 100 million farmers. There are 400 million ag workers now. I doubt there is enough McDonalds, Starbucks, sweat shop jobs for the other 300 million who will be soon out of a job.
Lastly, Taiwan. China wants Taiwan BAD.
Is Chinas agriculture still colectivised? What is collectivisation really mean anyway?
I don’t see how the American embargo of Cuba can cripple Cuba’s economy. The embargo simply means that they can’t buy things from America. However, Mexico, Canada, and most of Europe don’t embargo Cuba. If they had the money they could by whatever they wanted from the rest of the world. The trouble is, they have no real industry except agriculture and tourism. The market for agricultural exports is at an all time low…it is almost impossible to make a profit exporting sugar which used to be a huge part of Cuba’s economy.
Cuba not being able to trade with the US would be about like South Korea not being able to trade with China under Mao. Annoying perhaps, but not devastating.
Buy or sell, Lemur866. And no american tourists. Or cigars.
My first reply was merely giving communist point of view. I was not addressing the issue of whether there is any real benevolency going on since this is GQ and not GD.
Haiti suffers from no trade embargo from the US. Likewise the Dominican Republic. One is the classic example of an economic basket case in the Western Hemisphere, the other is just another 3rd world country. Same island, same relations with the US. (Okay, the last time we sent in troops to Haiti we were asked and not really asked the last time in the DR.) In Haiti, everyone knows it’s bad government. Draw your own conclusions.
I agree that this certainly could become a long and dangerous thread, and is probably destined for GD.
However I wish to add my two cents while it lasts.
The first (and probably biggest) obstacle in dealing with this question lies in the definition od Communism. Russian, Chinese, Yugoslav, or even Cuban (though it probably comes closest-though still not very) versions of collectivist society are nowhere near the visions of Marx.
While Marx believed in the moral superiority of a collectivist state, he was not by strict definition a revolutionary. Marx beleived the Communism was an evolutionary process of society. That as chieftan-based societies evolved into feudalism, to mercantilism (enterprise at the behest of and for the benefit of the state-the power elite), to capitalism (enterprise by and for the powerful elite, no longer confined to the specifically ruling class), it would eventually evolve into a process in which enterprise was done at the behest of, and to the benefit of all of society.
Agree or disagree with him as you will, but the point is he wasn’t specifically saying this should happen (thogh he beleived it should) but that it would. Lenin, who is the individual most responsible for the perversion of Marxist thinking cloaked himself as a Marxist as part of his ploy to sieze power in revolutionary Russia. The main problem with implementing a Marxist-collectivist society in Russia in 1911 was that Tsarist Russia had barely entered the stage of mercantile economic development, much less capitalism. Marx was dismissive of the evile of capitalism, but he also credited it as being responsible for most of what was good in the world. Marx wasn’t an anti-capitalist per se, he just felt that a better system should, and would evolve from it. In a prototypical Marxist state, means of production would have to be in existance for a Marxist revolution to take place. (i.e. some rich capitalist would have had to have built a factory to enrich himself, but then the factory could be put in to better use serving the needs of everyone once the revolution took place-and yes this is a simplification).
Lenin, didn’t care much for the evolution, he wanted to be in charge. NOW. So he decided to skip a couple of steps, (advanced mercantilism, and capitalism) and then catch back up later. Thus the collective farms, and the attempt to industrialize in one generation, the forced migrations of populatiosn, and all of the other Leninist-Stalinist atrocities which were an attempt to artificially implement societal changes that Marx predicted would occur natural over many generations.
Sorry for typos and whatnot.
Flame at will un-repentant capitalists.
oh and I nearly forgot to Lemur866
actually, the Helms-Burton Act which specifically deals with the US embargo of Cuba does call for sanctions upon anyone who trades with Cuba. While this is in fact over-looked in some cases there is a heavy hand of US economic brinksmanship stifling Canadian and European trade with Cuba.
sorry no links to back up any of this right now because I’m too lazy, but I could probably be promted to find some if called upon.